7 business tips to learn from mafia films

As blood thirsty as he was, Tony Montana showed traits that would serve you well in the boardroom.

May 27, 2014

What is it that makes gangster films so appealing to men? The money? The power? The gruesome consequences of unfortunate actions?

We’ll be honest, here at EDGAR we’re not really the mafia-esque type. We’re more likely to be found dusting flint off our double-breasted suits than another man’s blood, but that doesn’t mean that we haven't picked up a few tips from watching movies about organised crime.

In fact, we've found that several reoccurring themes in particular ring true in business...

1. Don’t disrespect the boss

If you aren’t already aware of this one, then you’re probably a lot closer to the door than you think. In Goodfellas, Tommy DeVito takes his one initiative and decides to whack ‘made man’ Billy Batts. The consequence? Tommy is eliminated, pronto.

Gross insubordination never goes unnoticed and rarely goes unpunished. It’s like pushing the self-destruct button on your job. Never do it.

2. Don’t act like you’re invincible

Unless you’re the majority shareholder in your business, you’re not invincible, so don’t act like you are. It’s the start of a slippery slope if you begin to believe you’re above everyone else. That’s how people get popped – just ask Mr Blonde. mafia1

3. Always be one step ahead

Has this strategy ever been counterproductive? Not only does being one (or several) steps ahead in business keep you above your colleagues, but it means you’re more likely to surprise – and please – your boss. As De Niro says in Casino, "the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose, and in the end, we get it all."

Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment – Michael Corleone (The Godfather: Part III)

4. Keep your home in order

There's a reason mafia firms refer to themselves as a ' family'. Working with your loved ones can make a business watertight, and there is no bigger bond than blood, right? Just look at The Sopranos.

More importantly, you're far more likely to knuckle down to your day in the office without any quarrels from home hanging over your head, and it always helps to return to someone's loving arms. Bonnie and Clyde had their work-life balance down to a T.mafia3

5. Don’t show weakness

Now we’re not saying Scarface’s Tony Montana is a role model as such, but if there’s one thing we will credit him with it’s his inability to show a weakness. How does somebody take you down if you have no obvious flaws?

6. Have a ruthless side

Nobody needs to be ruthless 24/7. In fact, everybody likes the nice guy, even if he doesn’t always win. The trick is keeping your ruthless side skin deep, ready to unleash it when it’s most needed. Like the sentimental watch aficionado Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction; if he didn’t pump John Travolta full of lead he never would have walked out of that house.

7. Be loyal

Loyalty (and respect) is probably the glue that holds mob families together – or so we derive from Hollywood’s depictions. In Martin Scorsese's The Departed both Matt Damon’s loyalty to his mob roots and Leo DiCaprio’s to his police academy are testament to loyalty persevering under extreme circumstances. Oh wait a minute, they both end up dead don’t they... Damn.  mafia2